A busy, bustling, booming San Marco Piazza welcomes you off the boat and throws you in the deep end of this liquid land. The stunning Saint Mark’s Basilica looms across Andrea Tirali’s pavement as you stroll across the plaza, before losing yourself in the narrow, steep-sided maze of Venice’s ancient streets and bridges. Gondolas flow past with one-armed strides carrying couples lost in their own private romances, as you grab an espresso and hail a vaporetti water taxi along the Grand Canal.
The resplendent charm of this beautiful city is at the mercy of crowds which can often overwhelm her fragile graces, yet the fast-paced chaos can equally be seen as an invigorating injection of life. This is, after all, an Italian city that still pulses with passion and a lust for life few other culture can match. And if you wait for dusk, as the soft ochre and tangerine light of the setting sun flows like honey over the dated roofs, you’ll realise why this is still the undisputed city of romance.
Where to stay
Hotel Danieli and Londra Palace are a few steps away from the main piazza; the Hilton Molino Stucky and Papadopoli are also centrally located on the Grand Canal and cater well for business travel.
Where to eat
You have to dig a little beyond the numerous tourist-targeting eateries to find truly excellent Italian cuisine. Le Bistrot de Venice is excellent near Piazza San Marco, while Vino Vino is another good choice in the same area. Fiaschetteria Toscana is a fine dining treat in Cannaregio.
What to see
San Marco’s Piazza is the centre of Venice and the Grand Canal is the most famous of her many waterways. Lido is a superb island venue where you can soak up the romance without the crowds.